Topic 1 : The Weimar republic 1918-33

  • Created by: Pin0010
  • Created on: 27-03-19 17:03

Early Problems of the Weimar Republic

Autumn 1918:

  • The people were starving after the allied blockade for 4 years (Turnip Winter)
  • In August and September the army collapsed
  • Kiel Mutiny: They refused to attack the British as they thought it would be foolish
  • On the 9th of November the Kaiser abdicated and fled to Holland
  • Left Germany in charge of the Social Democrats
  • After the leader, Ebert, heard about how bad the situation was he called for a cease fire on the 11th of November 1918
  • Some units had seen little action so they did not understand why the armistice was signed
  • The German people had been told the war was defensive so they did not understand why they surrendered
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Weimar Constitution

The Nature of the Constituition

  • Based on proportional representation
    • meant it was difficult for one party to gain overall majority in the Reichstag
  • The allies hoped this would prevent a strong government coming to power
  • Due to Berlin being in chaos they met in Weimar
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What did the Weimar Constitution say?

What did it say:

  • Everyone over the age of 20 could vote
  • You had freedom of speech, religion and association
  • The Reichstag was an elected parliament
  • The Chancellor had to have the voting support of the Reichstag
  • The President was elected every 7 years, the President was just a figure
  • Elections were based on proportional representation
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The positives and Negatives of the Weimar Constitu


  • It was very democratic
  • The Chancellor had to have support from the Reichstag


  • It was hard to form coalition governments
  • Germany had no tradition of democracy
  • Proportional Representation meant that everyone was setting up their own parties meaning that no party got the majority in the Reichstag
  • The Weimar politicians that signed the ToV were called the 'November Criminals'
    • They were accused of stabbing the country in the back (Dolchtoss theory)
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The impact of the ToV

Impact of the ToV:

  • Land
    • Germany lost about 10% of its land (e.g. Alsace-Lorraine was given back to France)
    • All colonies were taken away and handed to Britain or France to look after until they were ready for independence
  • Army
    • The army was reduced to 100,000 men
    • conscription was banned
    • navy was reduced to six ships
    • submarines were banned
    • airforce was destroyed
  • Money
    • Had to pay reparations of 6.6 billion pounds over thirty years
  • Blame
    • Germany was forced to accept the blame
    • German people resent the diktat
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Why was the ToV unpopular?

Why was the ToV unpopular:

  • The Germans thought it would be more lenient becuase they had open peace negotiations on Woodrow Wilson's 14 points
  • The people had not been told much about the war, they thought that they were fighting a defensive war against their aggressive neighbours
  • The reparations were severe and the people thought that they were being punished instead of the Kaiser who was at fault
  • The ToV was a diktat so the government had to accept it and wasn't allowed to negotiate about it 
  • The war guilt clause was deemed unfair as the war had started with a Serb murdering an Austrain
  • A lot of the ToV had to do with revenge and with French war-debts than with fairness
  • The Germans used the Weimar as a scapegoat and called them the 'November Criminals' and that they stabbed the Germans in the back ( the Dolchstoss theory)
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Spartacist uprising and Kapp Putsch

Spartacist Revolt in January 1919:

  • Led by Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg
  • Wanted to create a communist state
  • On 6th January 1919 they tried to overthrow the government
  • Then Ebert used the Reichswehr (army) and Freikorps (ex-army thugs) to crush them
  • More than 1,000 people were killed
  • Another uprising in Munich in April was violently crushed by the Freikorps

Kapp Putsch in March 1920:

  • In 1920, Ebert, tried to disband the Freikorps however this led to an the Freikorps to attempt a coup in Berlin
  • Led by Woflgang Kapp who stressed the communist threat and the Dolschtoss theory
  • To fight this the government told the people to go on a general strike because the army did not want to fight them as 'The Reichswehr does not fire on Reichswehr'
  • More than 400 officers were involved but only very few were punished
  • There were 400 political murdeers between 1919 and 1923
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Consequences of unrest

  • Increased street violence, often due to the Freikorps
  • Growing lack of respect for Weimar government
    • Led to rising inflation and unemployment
  • Tehre was growth in popularity for extremeist parties
    • Especially in the south of Germany
    • Most important was German Workers Party that was set up in 1919 by Anton drexler
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Occupation of the Ruhr

What happened?

  • In December 1922 the German gov. said they would not be able to make further payments and in January 1923 the Germans stopped coal shipments
  • On the 11th January the French and Belgians invaded the Ruhr and demanded the coal and iron ore 
  • The German workers went on strike so then the French brough in their own workers and cut the Ruhr off from the rest of Germany.  This caused uprisings and violence

What were the effects:

  • Hyperinflation: the workers stopped working and the gov. had to print money to pay them
    • By August 1923 prices were rising by 400% every day
  • This hit people with fixed incomes really hard and people with saving
  • It was beneficial for people with loans as they were able to pay them back
  • The Weimar gov. became more liked due to the support they gave to the workers
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Recovery under Stressemann

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Germany in the 1920's

  • Business prospered under the recovery programme.  New industries like cars, radios and telephones did very well
  • Artists enjoyed the freedom from censorship
  • Berlin became one of the most popular and free cities in Europe
  • Jazz clubs and cabaret did well as people spent the money they had
  • Berlin had 120 newspapers and 40 theatres
  • in 1929 the Young Plan reduced the reparations to 1,707,000,000 marks a year, of which only 660,000,000 had to be paid
  • The Young plan was attacked by right-wing parties and Hitler was used as a spokesman by Alfred Hugenberg
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The impact of the Great Depression

  • Gustav Stressemann died on 3 October 1929
  • On 24 October 1929 Wall Street crashed and US bankers called in their loans to Germany
  • This led to the depression of the 30's and in 1932 6,000,000 Germans were out of work
  • Unemployment pay only lasted six months
  • The Weimar government was unable to deal with the situation
  • In 1931 some banks went bust, this was bad for the ordinary Germans as this lead to many of them losing their homes and being forced to live on the streets
  • The Social Democrats refused to cut unemployment pay
  • President Hindenburg allowed Chancellor Bruning to regullarly use his emergency powers to by-pass the Reichstag
  • Bruning tried to tackle the depression by reducing the amount of money the government spent.  This raised taxes and so people were unhappy
  • In August 1932 Bruning resigned because he refused to take more right-wingers into the government
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